January 29, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Protest roadblock in Bolivia

A citizens group in the town of Camiri in south-east Bolivia has blockaded the road between Santa Cruz and Paraguay, protesting that President Morales decrees regarding the natural gas have not gone far enough. The blockade is part of a general strike in the town, and is of of indefinite duration. The protesters want the state oil firm Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales de Bolivia to be "refounded," meaning that all hydrocarban properties would be fully nationalized. On Friday, Juan Carlos Ortiz, the head of YPFB, resigned because of a smear campaign being waged against him, part of a dispute over policy. See BBC and El Diario (in Spanish, no permalink). To me, this seems like a staged event designed by supporters of Morales to make him seem like a reasonable centrist leader holding the country together.

Bolivian-born Miguel Centellas, who has been too busy to blog lately (!), posted a detailed analysis of the situation in Bolivia. [It seems that Morales has alienated an even bigger share of the population by granting recognition to an Aymara Indian paramilitary group called the "Ponchos Rojos." Dumb, dumb, dumb. It's as if he were inviting the political establishment to launch a coup against him.]